Tender Mercies

In the wake of the grotesque video that just came out (you know – salad, wine, and baby parts for sale), one of the very natural and appropriate responses is to feel totally overwhelmed at the vastness of the problem. It is easy to turn from this to a lot of frantic anger at everyone – the pro-choice people for thinking this was a good idea, your Christian friend who is not wound up enough about it, politicians who maybe could do something but aren’t even trying. I wanted to take a moment though to reflect on another emotion that we need to give voice to. Gratitude.

I wasn’t even born yet when Roe vs. Wade happened. But for my parents and an entire generation of Christians in our nation, that ruling was an appalling blow. And here is why I am so full of gratitude. That was over 40 years ago, and Christians have not stopped fighting it.

My parents were involved in starting the crisis pregnancy center in our town, my dad was once arrested along with truckloads of other people at a protest in Spokane. There was a doctor in our town who performed abortions but eventually quit because of the social pressure of Christians objecting. And this is just a small picture of things that were happening all over our country. Christians have not been silent, they have not been weak, they have not been impotent.

I do not know how many crisis pregnancy centers there are in America now – but it is in the thousands. And then there are the mobile clinics providing ultrasounds on the street outside abortion clinics. And each one of those outposts represents many Christians – involved in giving financially, counseling, supplying clothing for mothers and babies, ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, and supportive people to talk to.

Christians across our nation have opened their homes to young mothers who had nowhere else to go. Christians have gotten involved in foster care and adoption – looking for ways to put their life where their faith is. Christians have spent time starting awkward conversations on sidewalks in front of clinics – hoping to show the love of Christ in the few minutes they may have before that woman walks through the door. And they have been successful! Many, many children have been spared from abortion by this faithfulness.

There are bigger organizations committed to fighting abortion too – in legal and political ways – and they have been fighting consistently for long enough that the pro-choice world feels threatened and angry. How dare they restrict abortions? How dare they require ultrasounds or parental consent? How dare they get close to any of our precious “rights” and tell us that we may not do this?

And there are smaller efforts, done by individuals just trying to do whatever they can. We were in Spokane one beautiful Saturday when we saw the huge Planned Parenthood looming ahead of us, and we suddenly felt the weight of this sadness. But there, on the sidewalk outside the entrance, stood one older man with a big sign protesting abortion. Just putting in the hours and hoping some woman would see that picture of a baby and turn around. We rolled down the rear windows in our car and had the kids yell “Thank you!” to him.

And to all the doctors and nurses who have taken a strong stand in their professions – in the face of all kinds of pressure. Thank you. Thank you for being the one who wouldn’t – the one who would not for the sake of your professional reputation become calloused to the defiance of God.

Planned Parenthood has received much money – forcibly taken from us and donated on our behalf in the name of “women’s health.” But crisis pregnancy centers and other Pro-Life ministries have received untold millions of dollars – freely given as an act of faith and mercy.

I think sometimes Christians hear the accusation that Pro-life people only care about the life of the baby and couldn’t care less about the mothers. Planned Parenthood has certainly made an effort to present themselves as the people who have true compassion on the women ,  wanting them all to have the brightest most child-free future. And I think sometimes Christians hear an argument and feel a wave of guilt, which results in them turning to each other and demanding that we care more, show more love, do something more. But I am reminded of the Proverb (12:10) that the righteous man regards the life of his beast (even the animals!) but  the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

I do believe that there are pro-choice people who really believe they are being compassionate. They really think they are being the big-hearted people who care – but the reality is that without God our most tender mercies are cruel. Offering an abortion to a woman who is already burdened by fear, guilt, shame, and hopelessness is a cruel, cruel thing. But it is the best thing  they have to offer.

Because of Christ, Christians are the people who offer post-abortive counseling. Christians welcome into their churches and lives women who have been hurt by abortions. Christians have been faithfully showing the love of Christ in this area since the moment it was legalized. So well done. And thank you.

Though this battle is far from over,  it has so far been well fought. Fought in faith, with patience. With prayer, with joy, with love, with hope. Do not be deceived. Just because we haven’t won yet doesn’t mean we aren’t doing what we should be doing. Fight, pray, hope, laugh, nurse your babies, kiss your children, reach out to the needy, encourage one another. Give thanks to God for letting us be alive in a time that so desperately needs to hear His Gospel. Let your tender mercies truly be merciful.

So don’t let this wonderful turn of events shame you over what Christians have yet to do – but let it inspire you to lean into this faithful fight. Join your voice to the thousands who have gone before you.

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10 thoughts on “Tender Mercies

  1. Thank you for this encouraging post. Yes, there is more fighting to do. There’s a planned parenthood right across the street….and continue on.

  2. When I first read ‘gratitude’ I was thinking- I am not sure how this can be spun to be something to be thankful for. And this coming from a woman who is pretty darn good at finding the thanks in the circumstances. But you are so, so right.

    Thanks for this.

  3. Thank you for this article! I have also been giving extra thanks this week for my 9-month-old son’s birth mother, who resisted pressure to abort, chose to carry her baby to term, and then picked my husband and me to be his parents.

  4. While I am working on it, graciousness is not always my forte. :) This is a beautiful perspective and reminder of graciousness in this ugly fight we are in. Thank you for it.

  5. I can’t help wondering how this new revelation will affect those who are only mildly pro-choice. If it changes some hearts and opens some eyes, that’s certainly something wonderful for which we can also be grateful.

  6. I pondered this post for quite some time after reading it yesterday afternoon. Yet this morning I keep circling around “IS IT ENOUGH?” what will God say to us on that last day when he asks why we couldn’t save his children? It’s something like 57 Million abortions since 1973? I feel like even the Christian community has become somewhat numb to it. Sure, there is some success but over all – I feel like we have failed – big time. I’m tearfully wrestling with that this morning.

  7. Amen. Thanks for writing this. There is much to mourn but there is much to be grateful for as you have detailed.

    If I can encourage anyone reading this post – please, find your nearest pregnancy resource center and just go visit. Listen and be encouraged by the quiet daily work that is going on there. Learn how to pray specifically for their work and if possible, give money or even your time. There is a lot more work to do but there is good work being done and done well and that you can participate in.

  8. Thank you, Rachel! What a beautiful perspective that brings tears to my eyes. Christ is victory, right now and forever.

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